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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 48 declined, 35 accepted (83 total, 42.17% accepted)

+ - Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Gaza's only power plant (see this profile at IEEE Spectrum — duct tape and bailing wire not included) has been knocked offline following an Israeli strike. Reports vary, but it appears that Israeli tank shells caused a fuel bunker at the plant to explode. Gaza, already short on electricity despite imports from Israel and Egpyt, now faces widening blackouts."

+ - Networked Gadgets Waste 400 Terawatt-Hours of Energy Every Year

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum reports: "Your Xbox wastes a lot of energy—energy that could power the entire United Kingdom. Well, it's not just your Xbox, but your Xbox and my printer and your friend's television and 14 billion other networked electronic devices around the world....

"The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new report on just how much power all those networked devices use...[t]he results are amazing: network-enabled devices in homes and offices around the world consumed 616 terawatt-hours in 2013, and 65 percent of that (400 TWh) could have been saved simply by using technology that exists today."

It's a problem of design: even though it's technologically straightforward to design products for better energy consumption, with little incremental cost, there's no incentive for a designer to do so. It's not their electricity going to waste, after all."

+ - Luke Prosthetic Arm approved by FDA

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. (more info here) Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."

+ - Megatons to Megawatts Program Comes to a Close

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S came weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end as the final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, arrived in Baltimore."

+ - Inventor of AK-47 Dies at 94

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, an arms designer for the Soviet Union, creator of the AK-47, passed away today at age 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and entered the Soviet Army as a conscript. However, the self-taught tinkerer had an aptitude that took him far. The AK-47, his best-known creation, was praised for its reliability and low cost; attributes that have made it the most successful firearm ever, seeing use in homeland defense, rebellion, terrorism, and untold massacres. The inventor was himself ambivalent about the uses his creation had seen, but was nevertheless proud of his contribution to his country, where he is praised as a hero."

+ - Another Casualty of Typhoon Haiyan: Geothermal Power

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Little known even in environmental circles is a renewable energy success story: five geothermal power plants on Leyte Island in the Philippines — each of which producing enough power for the entire island — that collectively produce more than 10% of the Philippines total electrical demand. From boreholes deep underground comes pressurized water heated to 280 Celcius. At the surface it flashes into steam, turning one set of turbines, then cools and contracts to spin a second set of turbines. The low-grade steam is then condensed back into water and reinjected into the bedrock. But Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the cooling towers, snapped transmission towers, and scattered the employees."

+ - MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"

+ - MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"

+ - Link Rot and the U.S. Supreme Court

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you've linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren't necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second studyon link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship."

+ - Apple's New TouchID - Breakthrough or Disaster? 2

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Apple isn't the first company to integrate a fingerprint reader into a cellphone. But with the introduction of TouchID into the home button of the new iPhone 5S, Apple has thrust the technology front and center, and made a big gamble in the process. Will users accept it? Will other companies follow? What happens if the false positive/false negative rates are too high? Without an open and inspectable protocol, we have to take Apple at its word that the fingerprint data exist only in the sensor and the (local) processor; no APIs for third-party access have been announced. Is this an acceptable security model? If it's an awful model, is it at least better than the alternative (passcodes, or nothing at all)?"

+ - Transporting a 15-m, 600-ton Magnet Cross Country

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "Although its Tevatron particle accelerator has gone dark, Fermi Laboratory outside Chicago is still doing physics. A new experiment, called muon g-2 will investigate quantum mechanical behavior of the electron's heavier sibling: the muon. Fermi needs a large ring chamber to store the muons it produces and investigates, and it just so happens that Brookhaven National Laboratory outside NYC has one to spare. But how do you transport a delicate, 15-m diameter, 600-ton superconducting magnet halfway across the country? Very carefully."
Power

+ - Fukushima cooling knocked offline by...a rat

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble."

+ - Towards a 50% Efficient Solar Cell

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum magazine has a feature article describing DARPA-funded work towards developing a solar cell that's 50% efficient, for a finished module that's 40% efficient — suitable for charging a soldier's gadgets in the field. Conventional silicon and thin-film PV tech can hit cell efficiencies of upwards of 20%, with finished modules hovering in the teens. Triple-junction cells can top 40%, but are expensive to produce and not practical in most applications. Current work by the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell program uses optics (dichroic films) to concentrate incoming sunlight by 20-200x, and split it into constituent spectra, which fall on many small solar cells of different chemistries, each tuned to maximize the conversion of different wavelengths."
Your Rights Online

+ - US Supreme Court rules against Warantless GPS Trac

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "In a rare 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (PDF) in United States v. Jones that law enforcement needed to obtain a search warrant before installing a GPS tracker on a suspect's car, then monitoring the car's movements. The Court split 5-4, however, on the scope of the ruling, and ruled largely on the fact that they installed the tracker on the defendant's private property (a car), sidestepping much larger questions about pervasive police tracking using GPS, cameras, and cellphones."
Medicine

+ - HPV Vaccine Recommended for Boys 1

Submitted by necro81
necro81 (917438) writes "An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon issue new recommendations that pre-adolescent boys be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The disease is sexually transmitted, endemic in the sexually active, can cause genital warts in both men and women, and is the primary cause of cervical cancer, which kills hundreds of thousands of women globally each year. The three-dose vaccination has been available for several years and already recommended for pre-adolescent girls. Vaccinating boys should further reduce transmission"

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